Merseyside Police donate £30,000 of Proceeds of Crime Act cash to Speke community garden
Merseyside Police has donated £30,000 to help plant the seeds for a greener community in Speke with a new community garden, Grow Speke.
The derelict land once occupied by Speke Boys Club, on Little Heath Road, is being transformed into an oasis of tranquillity and learning and the cash, taken out of the hands of criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) as part of the force's Community Cash Back Fund, has helped Groundwork Cheshire, Lancashire and Merseyside get their plans off the ground.
Since the demolition of the club, once regularly attended by a young George Harrison, the site has experienced issues with anti-social behaviour including fly-tipping, arson and drug-taking. The land was taken in the control of social housing provider South Liverpool Homes on a long-term lease and anti-social behaviour has reduced.
With the injection of £30,000 cash, work is well underway to make the site a communal garden developed and run by the community where local people can grow plants and food. The funding has helped unlock more resources to make the community garden a reality, with Jaguar Land Rover and Blackburne House donating further cash.
A team of volunteers, including some provided by Kier Group, have been clearing the site and building raised beds. Grow Speke recently hosted the first in a series of planned activities for the local community, with pumpkin carving and an organised bonfire event attended by around 200 residents giving neighbours and families an opportunity to get together and have fun.
When complete, it will offer horticultural therapy to people with long-term health conditions, provide training to help those out of work and an educational programme for local schools incorporating art and wildlife. It will also provide a space where people can meet, socialise and even cook.
The funding forms part of £225,000 of seized criminal cash given to community groups across Merseyside by the police.
Community Inspector Andy Wignall said: "The plan for a community garden in Speke was really impressive and should help to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of people of all ages.
"This is an area which has had some issues with fly-tipping and small fires. Our hope is that the range of activities available at the garden will mean it is a well-used resource that will transform the area.
"The garden will be a short 15-minute walk for some 12,000 people locally and I am sure many will welcome the fact that this land, which has lain derelict for some time, will be brought back into use."
Andy Darron, Chief Executive of Grozone, said: "Groundwork is really excited about the potential of this site – and the difference the project will make to the lives of many people living in the area. There is real enthusiasm amongst the local community and partners, and we are hugely grateful for the support of the POCA funding in making all of this happen."
Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "It is really satisfying to think that we have been able to seize the ill-gotten financial assets of criminals, who cause such damage to our communities, and reinvest it to provide vital resources to communities across Merseyside.
"Each and every one of the initiatives that have benefited from this money are thoroughly deserving and will put it to very good use.
"I am confident their positive impact will be felt for a long time and I look forward to hearing how they progress in the months and years to come."